All you need to know about Hitchin Town v Arsenal XI tonight – as more pictures unearthed of Gunners 1996/97 training session at Top Field
- Credit: Archant
The final preparations have been made by Hitchin Town FC as they get ready to host an Arsenal XI tonight – as the Comet has unearthed pictures of the last time a Gunners team set foot at Top Field for a training session during the 1996/97 season.
Kwame Ampadu’s youthful Arsenal team visit North Herts tonight for the official inauguration of the Canaries floodlights – 54 years to the month after Billy Wright’s strong Gunners side played Hitchin to mark their previous ‘new’ set.
The fixture will mark a historic moment for the club, only two years since their evocative home ground was threatened by property developers.
The new and upgraded floodlights will allow the club to progress up the National League System, where they currently play Step Three football in the Southern League Premier Division.
Manager Mark Burke said: “It’s not every day The Arsenal come to play at Top Field.
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“It’s very good of them to agree to mark our new floodlights. They play football the right way and we try to as well.
“Hopefully we will see a bumper crowd for what promises to be an enjoyable evening,”
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The club’s floodlight project was made possible thanks to a £27,924 grant from the Premier League, through the Football Stadia Improvement Fund, the largest funders of non-league football in the country – along with considerable financial support from the community.
Hitchin have designated the evening a ‘Pay What You Want Game’. They are expecting a bumper gate and urge both sets of fans to get their early, with parking available opposite the ground on Butts Close – where Henry VIII reputedly practiced his archery skills.
Gunners legend, Pat Rice, will switch on Hitchin Town FC’s new floodlights at 6.30pm ahead of the 7.45pm kick off.
Hitchin Town club secretary and stalwart – who it is estimated has seen more than 2,000 Canaries games said: “I can’t wait for tonight’s game.
“I am sure everything will be alright on the night and I would like to thank all the many people from the club who have helped to make it happen.
“Whatever team Arsenal send down it’s an Arsenal team playing at Top Field which sounds so good!
“Even if younger players are included they will be of the highest quality as Arsenal have the pick of the best young players not just from England but from anywhere in the world.
“A big thank you to Arsenal for agreeing to send a team.”
The club will be hosting many former players from both sides from the 1962 game including Hitchin’s keeper on the evening Charlie Turner, as well as teammates Terry Waldock. Tommy Everitt and Peter Hammond.
From the 1962 Arsenal team David Court and Billy McCullough as well as the much-missed late Geordie Armstrong’s wife Marj and daughter Jill.
Monies raised going towards Bob Wilson’s Willow Foundation.